La Familia Valera Miranda – Cuba (2017)

La Familia Valera Miranda - Cuba (2017)
Artist: La Familia Valera Miranda
Album: Cuba
Genre: Latin Jazz
Origin: Cuba
Released: 2017
Quality: mp3, 320 kbps
Llora mi nena (5:00)
Bambay (3:48)
Tuna, Mayari, Guantánamo (4:54)
Juramento (2:53)
Que lindo Bayamo (5:10)
¡Basta ya! (2:44)
Rita la caimana (5:01)
Retorna (2:27)
Vuela como el águila (5:19)
Dulce embeleso (2:40)
Murió Valera en San Luis (4:04)
El misterío de tus ojos (3:07)
El calvario de un poeta (8:21)
El penquito de Coleto (5:51)


This collection of Cuban sons, boleros, and rondos is performed by a family whose origins lie in the same region as the birthplace of the son: the Oriente (of which the capitol is Santiago), over a thousand miles from Havana. Ocora has taken its usual academically sound approach and recorded the Familia Valera Miranda — all of the three generations represented here are musicians — playing the classic sons of various times and regions, but mostly from the 0riente. The country son differs widely from the urban version in that, while the two-measure beat is created with the claves, there are improvised lines from the beginning, and the chorus itself remains static. The freeform first lines and choruses that usually come in the back part of the song are reversed here. Elsewhere, on the boleros, the driving passion at the heart of the more urban variety is muted into something more lush and asymmetrical, creating an incantatory and hallucinatory kind of son, one that slips out of what those further to the north have come to recognize as either son or bolero. The only drawback to this collection is the dry, flat sound with which Ocora has chosen to record this family. For whatever reason, its equalization was registered as flat, and therefore if the listener is not delving deeply into the songs and their meanings — courtesy of a complete booklet of information — the tracks all become samey-sounding and don’t highlight the dynamics in some of these songs, which are part of the popular son repertoire on the island, especially in Havana. Indeed, it’s as if the Ocora team went out of their way to record the Familia Valera Miranda as timepieces, artifacts, antiquities — rather than as the living and breathing musicians they are. It is truly unfortunate to have the most passionate music on the planet performed by some of its most important interpreters, but recorded as if it were a museum exhibition.
Review by Thom Jurek